Many home searches begin with a “wants and needs” list, shared between clients and real estate agents. However, in truth, lots of clients aren’t very good at expressing what they want, and although they go through the motions of helping their agent, they’re more of the “I’ll know it when I see it” type. It’s important when you’re house-hunting to know yourself, and to know whether this is true about you. If you can’t explain or express what it is that you like, and you go through the “checklist” exercise, you may end up just leading your agent on a wild goose chase. Everything they propose to you won’t seem just right, and you’ll feel like you’re looking at endless properties but never seeing what you want.
How can you prevent this and keep yourself from getting mired down in what seems like a fruitless search? A great agent will have a system, and it’s worth taking time to answer their questions in detail. I like to ask my clients to make trade-offs – if you could have the back yard of this house, but had to give up the kitchen of that one, would you? This can help me (and them) to get more clarity as to their real priorities.
I also find that some home buyers, especially if they don’t have a lot of experience working with an agent, are afraid they’re going to be “sold” something they don’t want. If I’m representing you as a buyer, the last thing I want is an unhappy client who will give me a poor referral. I want you to be happy. No house is perfect, but I want enough of it to be so great, you’re willing to live with the drawbacks – whether they include paying more money than you had hoped, having to settle for a small kitchen, or needing to replace a roof or wiring before moving in.
As we work together, if I find you’re simply rifling through houses like a catalogue, never being satisfied once you see them, I’m going to probably dispense some “tough love” and ask you to do some pencil and paper (or spreadsheet) exercises. We’ll take that wants and needs list you started with, and then start comparing it to what you saw during your showings. If there are a lot of houses we saw that had everything you said you wanted and needed, but you hated them, I need to know why (and so do you). If it seems you are simply waiting for a magical unicorn, I’ll say so. But if it becomes clear something is more important than you realized, which is often the case, our work should help both of us to see a pattern and identify that “thing” that’s keeping you from being successful.
Everyone wants a bargain, and everyone wants a house without flaws. Unfortunately, in a real estate market in a very expensive city like Toronto, those two things can be a challenge to find simultaneously. However, if we can find you most of what you want and need at a price you can manage, over the course of time, you’ll be able to make your own improvements, and as your paycheque and equity grow, it will seem much more affordable. Before you know it, the house will be much more like what you imagined (and you’ll probably discover that some of the features you had really hoped for, have turned out to be not so important after all).